10 October 2019
The Netherlands lays itself open to ridicule
10 October 2019
“Ridiculous!” This is our reaction to the announcement of the Netherlands to bring an action before the Court of Justice of the European Union in order to cancel the ban on electric fishing. This announcement was expected, as it follows the country’s consistent pattern of trying to force its way through in all matters pertaining to the “electric fishing” case.
Instead of keeping a low profile — as would be expected after the innumerable scandals that were exposed during our almost two-year campaign to obtain a ban on this destructive fishing method (see below) — the Netherlands chooses once again to use political pressure to satisfy a handful of cynical and lying industrialists.
> Read our document exposing the moral corruption of the Netherlands and the European Commission
As a reminder, months of investigation and research revealed that the Netherlands committed a series of violations of Community laws, with the active complicity of public authorities at the national and European level:
- Political scandal: the European Commission granted a first series of derogations in 2006 to allow electric fishing, against the advice of its own scientists.
- Legal fraud: the number of derogations was thereafter considerably exceeded (84 licences instead of a dozen), namely under cover of ‘scientific research’.
- Scientific imposture: following the investigation by a journalist who revealed that most trawlers making use of electric fishing had never carried out scientific research, Carola Schouten, the Dutch Minister in charge of Fisheries, publicly admitted that this was true.
- Financial scandal: the Netherlands received at least 21.5 million euros of public funding to develop electric fishing.
- And there will be others.
- Stay tuned!
> Read our advocacy document, which explains the whole story from the very beginning and takes apart the arguments of the electric fishing lobby one by one
This announcement is nothing but a political bluff and the small-scale fishers of North Sea need not be troubled: electric fishing is banned, once and for all.
On 2 October 2017, BLOOM filed a first complaint to the Commission with regards to the number of derogations that the Netherlands had improperly granted to its fleet for electric fishing. After referring the matter to the European Ombudsman in November 2018 in the absence of a reply from the Commission, its Fisheries Directorate (DG MARE) finally acknowledged that the Netherlands was guilty of fraud and asked the College of Commissioners to open an infringement procedure. Unsurprisingly, since then BLOOM is still awaiting news regarding this procedure.
The Netherlands still continues to flout European law. For instance, they have maintained 42 derogations, although the new Regulation 1241/2019, which entered into force in August 2019, only allows them to retain a maximum of 15 licences. On 18 September 2019, BLOOM filed a third complaint to the European Commission to force the Netherlands to finally comply with European regulations.